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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ruthless law breakers who dared to defy the government, the law, and the people!, 28 Sep 2012
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Highway 301 [DVD] [1950] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
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Highway 301 is written and directed by Andrew L. Stone. It stars Steve Cochran, Virginia Grey, Gaby André and Edmond Ryan. Music is by William Lava and photography by Carl Guthrie. Story is based on a real gang of robbers known as The Tri-State Gang, who terrorised and thieved in North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland. Plot chronicles their activities and the pursuit of them by the authorities.

It opens with a trio of state governors cringe worthily pumping up the hard sell, for what we know is going to be a "crime doesn't not pay" message movie. I half expected the Star Spangled Banner to come booming out the speakers and an FBI version of Uncle Sam to flash on the screen telling us to come join the Crime Stoppers! Thankfully, once the cringe stops the film kicks in with a ruthless bank robbery and never looks back from that moment.

Led by cold blooded George Legenza (Cochran), this gang don't wear masks, they are ruthless but not beyond error, and tagging along are molls who are either oblivious to the gang's activities-fully complicit-or ignorant. It's a pressure cooker dynamic and as we soon find out, women are not going to be treated well here at all, if they are in the way or a threat to safety, they will cop it. Highway 301 is a violent film with some cold characterisations, and there may even be a subtle homosexual relationship between two of the gang members.

Andrew Stone's direction is tight and in tune with the jagged edges of his characters, with barely a filler shot used in the whole running time, while his scene structure for dramatic impacts work very well. Refreshingly there are no cheat cut-aways either. His cast are on form, with Cochran looming large with an intense and thoroughly dislikable portrayal leading the way, while Guthrie photographs with shadows prominent and a couple of night time street scenes are visually noirish. Unfortunately Stone's screenplay hasn't the time to put depth into the principal players, the gang are bad and greedy, the women scratching around for purpose or brains, but that's all we know. It's the one flaw in an otherwise great crime movie. 8/10
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Highway 301 [DVD] [1950] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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